Plaid Cymru launches campaign to save Community Health Council
Plaid Cymru has launched a campaign to save the local patients’ voice from being axed by the Welsh Government.
The campaign, by North Wales regional AM Llyr Gruffydd, aims to retain the independent voice of patients in the North in the face of Welsh Government plans to scrap it and create a new organisation based in Cardiff.
Mr Gruffydd said: “Patients and their families are often at their most vulnerable while in hospital or needing care from the NHS. Nurses, doctors and all the other NHS staff do a fantastic job under difficult circumstances but, when things go wrong, it’s important to have people on your side.
“The North Wales Community Health Council is an independent voice for patients and their families. It’s made up of community representatives from every part of the region and is not answerable to the health board – it’s completely independent and carries out 500 unannounced ward visits each year in the Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board area.
“As a result, it’s earned a reputation as a fierce defender of standards, an ally of hard-pressed staff and a strong advocate for patients.
“Its role has never been more important as Betsi Cadwaladr goes into its fifth year of ‘special measures’ and direct rule from Cardiff Bay. This is due to ongoing problems specifically in mental health provision but also generally in terms of managing workforce planning and recruitment.
“With that in mind we are horrified by plans by the Welsh Government to scrap the North Wales CHC and replace it with a Cardiff-based quango of selected appointees. Selected by the Welsh Government!
“There has never been a greater need for an independent voice for patients in north Wales. Scrutiny of the loss of community facilities, the pressure on NHS staff due to cuts, the growing demand of an elderly population with complex medical needs and the over-dependency on agency staff are only part of the work that the patients’ voice undertakes.”
Mr Gruffydd pointed out that it has about a dozen members from each county, the current CHC understands and is answerable to local communities and local people who use the health service: “It can offer specialist support to help dissatisfied patients and their families navigate the NHS bureaucracy when they are at their most fragile and vulnerable. They’re on our side and in recent years have been fearless in criticising failings in our health board while always backing our health service.
“It’s little wonder, especially with rumours of greater health centralisation on the horizon, that the Welsh Government would want to gag this independent voice just as happened in England and Scotland in the past. But, even by their standards, it’s staggering to see a grassroots organisation like this being shut down in favour of a handful of hand-picked appointees that will sit in Cardiff.
“Plaid Cymru is launching this summer campaign with a protest meeting at our stall on the National Eisteddfod site at 2.30pm on Monday, August 3, to keep our independent voice for patients here in the North – please visit our petition at www.plaidcymruclwyd.cymru/keep_north_wales_patients_voice
“The consultation into this proposal is still underway so have your say and make sure we keep our independent patients’ voice in the North here”.